Lest We Forget: Eleme LGA and Development
By Samuel O. Onungwe
The Local Government Area elections in Rivers State which was held on Saturday, June 16, 2018 across the 23 council areas of the state ushered in the current administration with Hon. Barr. Philip Okparaji Ph.D as the Executive Chairman, Hon. Grace Osaronu as the Vice Chairman and Rt. Hon. Nyime Ngelale as the Leader of Council.
This trio came on board at time when there were untold crisis in the land particularly, insecurity, and displacement of Ekporo people from their ancestral land for years and land encroachment by neighbouring communities, among others.
Together with other stakeholders they put their heads together and made enormous sacrifice to restore security in the land. The current local government has remained committed to the cause of restoring safety of life and property in the land as adaaji.com could still remember that profiling of willing youth in the community is still ongoing in order to identify and recruit credible men who shall serve as members of community vigilante in the land.
At the peak of the security crisis, youth from various communities in Eleme, mobilized themselves and supported by willing stakeholders to secure their land from criminality. The Local Government Authority as well, provided mobile radios among other things and that served as boost to secure the land. During that time, Eleme youth sacrificed their nights on daily basis to secure the land and there was no record of any uncivilized attitude from the youth.
In this administration, the LG provided transformers to some communities as a boost to electricity supply in the land. Also, worthy of commendation, is the successful burial of the Oneh Eh Eleme, X, HM, Emere Dr. S. O. Ejire and the peaceful selection and installation of his successor and later the selection and installation of Oneh Eh Nchia being, HM, Emere Dr. Philip O. Obele JP, Oneh Eh Eleme, XI and HRH, Emere (Sir) Godwin Bebe-Okpabi respectively.
Despite the efforts of this administration to restore the displaced members of Ekporo communities to their land, it has remained a dream.
This administration has done so much amidst the current economic crisis including provision of official vehicles to the executives and legislators of the Council, hand sanitizers and nose masks for some market men and women during the heat of Covid-19 Pandemic and remedial work at Aleto and Echieta area of the Aleto – Eteo road which had some failed sections and completion of Akpajo market project. Borehole water was also, provided for Ebubu residents. The LG authority in addition, distributed received palliatives from relevant authorities to the people.
Recently, this same administration, mobilized Eleme youth to demand for an additional flyover at Akpajo junction in addition to the proposed two – one at refinery junction and another at trailer along the Eleme axis of the East-West Road and the minister of Niger Delta approved it.
However, it seems the people are not pleased with the current leadership. For instance, the Eleme Legislative Assembly had made strong attempt to truncate the leadership of Hon. Barr. Okparaji Ph.D, as she leveled a serious allegation against him. The Eleme Legislative Assembly went on to pass a vote of no confidence on him. The action of the Eleme Legislative attracted the disapproval of a team of Eleme Youth Leaders under the leadership of Comr. Brain Gokpa as they countered the vote of no confidence passed on the LG boss after a meeting he convened. The councillors did not relent as they went on to announce on media that they had commenced impeachment proceedings on the Executive Chairman and Vice.
This was no mean crisis as it lasted for a while but for the timely intervention of leaders in the LGA and party chieftains by now this council leadership would have been perhaps, no more.
Some of the allegations made against the LG Chairman centred on transparency and accountability. Remarkably, the award and payment of a contract sum in millions for the completion of the Eleme Local Government Secretariat at Ogale, which has remained uncompleted till date.
The LG authority in a bid to find solutions to some common problems set up and mobilised various committees including street naming committee and electricity committee. They were to name the streets and liaise with PHEDC to provide prepaid metres at subsidized rate to improve electricity distribution in the land.
It is understood that the committees have began their work several months ago but result has not been seen. As this administration gradually cruises to its terminal point, the question on mind include; when would the committees implement the mandate given to them? Or can it be wise to say implementation is being delayed so as to continue this as a second tenure agenda, after the forthcoming LG elections in 2021? Or will it suffer the same fate with the 2014 Confab’s report if the electorates prefer another candidate? Why is potable water lacking in the entire Eleme the communities when the Eleme Local Government Council is rich?
Just recently, some aggrieved Eleme Youth began to campaign for #LightUpEleme Project where they expressed dissatisfaction over poor infrastructures and leadership in the land. They questioned the reason for poverty and obscurity in the midst of plenty, unemployment among the youth even when they posses necessary experience and qualifications. Soon, the Eleme Graduate Forum took the matter to another level with improved strategy and commitment.
They were to use the #ENDSARS match to press home their demand for a better life for the entire Eleme people and residents. However, principal stakeholders including the security chiefs and Eleme LGA boss urged them to organize themselves properly. The chairman went further to promise that he would match with them to the Palace of Oneh Eh Eleme, HM, Emere Dr. P. O. Obele, JP, to seek his approval and jointly, fix a date for a peaceful protest to attract the desired attention needed to develop the land.
At the meeting with His Majesty, Emere Dr. Philip O Obele and respected stakeholders, the leader of Eleme Graduate Forum, Mr. Saint Mube read out a five point agenda summarized thus:
- Return of displaced Ekporo people to their land, implementation of 1958 Supreme Court Judgment on Eleme/Okrika boundary dispute and white paper report of Charles-Grandville, 2000.
- Setting up of Eleme Utility Company to liaise with necessary authorities for the purpose of electricity and water supply.
- Employment and
All these were reported to have been endorsed by the Paramount Ruler of Eleme land, HM, Emere Dr. Philip Obele, JP, Oneh Eh Eleme, XI who praised the youth for their peaceful and intelligent conduct and he asked the LG authority to constitute a committee to review the document and convert it into a communiqué having regretted that most corporate organisations only prefer the language of violence before they could take necessary action.
In his speech, the LG boss said a committee would be inaugurated to that effect.
Hence, adaaji.com is delighted that the LG authority has matched his words with action by initiating a meeting with the management of the PHEDC and it is believed that it is a mere temporary measure to boost electricity supply in the land.
However, it cannot be forgotten that the promise to subsidize prepaid metres as stated by the LG Chairman during his meeting with the PHEDC on 4th November, 2020 is not a new one and Eleme people have been awaiting its implementation for over a year now.
Adaaji.com therefore, calls on the LG authority as a matter of urgency to transform the request by the Eleme Graduate Forum into a communiqué and engage necessary stakeholders particularly, the first and second tiers of government and the companies for the purpose of reinstating the displaced Ekporo communities and provision of uninterrupted power and water supplies in the entire Eleme land among others.
The people of Eleme are tired of meetings upon meetings and inauguration of committees whose impacts have remained a dream even after tax payers money has been expended on them. All the people are asking for is result and that is simple. Anything short of this is not acceptable may push the Eleme Youth to #LightUpEleme by engaging the relevant authorities by themselves. When the time comes do not say your children did not obey your appeal for a peaceful dialogue because many attempts have been made in futility.